Make in India, launched in 2014, has not been able to attract much investment in manufacturing. Besides, India is far behind many ASEAN countries in attracting investment in manufacturing. In May 2020, when Modi announced a $265 billion stimulus, the focus was to revive post-COVID-19 economic growth and aatmanirbharta by reducing dependency on imports and promoting local manufacturing, markets and supply chains. Given that India has been trying atmanirbharta since 2014, one has to understand why it has not been able to do so, why our trade balance is so skewed in favour of China, what is the level of dependence on China and how Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan can succeed.
In 2018-19, India had a negative trade balance of $53.56 billion with China. A March 2020 UNCTAD study on the global effects of China’s slowdown and supply chain disruptions ranked India 15, with an estimated impact of about US$0.34billion. Vietnam was at six, with an impact of $2.29billion. Other ASEAN countries like Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand were estimated to be affected more severely than India because our global chain integration is limited.